Your ears are a miraculous part of human anatomy. The outer portion, called the pinna, is made of tough cartilage and skin, and it’s curved in such a way to enhance your sense of hearing. Sometimes, though, ears can stick out if the antihelical fold in your ear is underdeveloped. When this fold is missing, it makes the helix (the outer rim of your ear) protrude. In addition, a deep concha can also make ears seem more prominent.
Although protruding ears don’t create any physical damage, they can create embarrassment and self-esteem issues, especially for children.
Here at Alfred Sofer, MD, we’re on a mission to help our patients 一 including our youngest patients一 feel better about themselves, so they can go through life with confidence. That’s why Dr. Alfred Sofer offers otoplasty for children embarrassed by protruding ears.
Here’s what you need to know about treatment for protruding ears.
What is ear pinning?
Ear pinning is a specific type of otoplasty (cosmetic ear surgery) that restores balance and proportion to your child’s ears. Ear pinning is suitable for children whose ears are fully developed, usually around the age of 5 or 6, but it’s also suitable for older children and even teens who aren’t happy with their ears.
Is your child embarrassed by protruding ears?
Before committing to ear surgery, the first step is a consultation with Dr. Sofer. During your consultation, Dr. Sofer examines your child’s ears, reviews your child’s medical history, ensures the ears are fully developed, and discusses treatment options with you.
You might consider ear pinning if your child’s ear protrudes, causing them embarrassment or a drop in their self-esteem. Some children may not voice their embarrassment, but they can make it known in other ways such as in constant requests to stay home from school. Recent studies also indicate that your self-esteem level as an adult has roots in childhood. In other words, ear pinning can help improve your child’s self-esteem both now and as an adult.
How is ear pinning performed
Once you’ve decided to go forward with ear pinning, your procedure will be scheduled. Although general anesthesia keeps your child comfortable, the procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure, so your child returns home the same day as the procedure. During the procedure, Dr. Sofer creates a small incision behind the ears and reshapes the cartilage to create a desirable ear fold. Additional sutures may or may be needed. Because the incision is made behind the ear, there isn’t any worry about visible scarring or incisions.
Once the ears are reshaped, Dr. Sofer applies a postoperative dressing to protect the ears and help keep them in their new position. During your consultation, Dr. Sofer reviews all post-op protocols with you, including how to care for your child’s ears and long to leave the postoperative dressing in place.
Preparing your child for surgery
Before your child undergoes surgery, it’s important to prepare your child mentally for surgery. Although the thought of correcting protruding ears can be exciting, it’s still normal for some children to express a few jitters. Sometimes, worries are simply the result of not knowing what to expect.
Here are a few tips to make the process as smooth as possible:
- Discuss the surgery in an age-appropriate matter, and remind your child that he or she will remain comfortable thanks to special medicine during surgery
- Read books about surgery to help your child feel prepared
- Focus on the positives, and discuss how ear pinning will eliminate embarrassment
- Create a box of fun (but low-energy) recovery activities to help keep your child preoccupied (books, a new stuffed animal, a new movie, etc.)
- Have bland foods on hand (as some children may feel a little nauseous from the anesthesia)
After ear pinning surgery, your child’s sleeping habits may be temporarily altered. You may need to help your child sleep comfortably without applying any pressure to his or her ears.
The bottom line is that ear pinning can help eliminate any of your child’s unhappiness with his or her ears. To learn more or to book your consultation, call us at 203-336-9862, or use our online booking tool.